United Pre-Orders a Hundred 19-Seat Electric Airplanes for 2026

Heart Aerospace, a company building a 19-seater electric airplane, has raised a $35M Series A round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, United Airlines Ventures and Mesa Air Group Inc. In addition, Heart’s seed investors EQT Ventures and Lowercarbon Capital, have participated in the round.

As part of the agreement, United and Mesa have together placed purchase orders, subject to terms, for 200 aircraft, the ES-19, with options for an additional 100 planes.

Heart Aerospace’s first aircraft is the ES-19, a nineteen passenger regional airplane driven entirely by batteries and electric motors. Heart anticipates delivering the first ES-19 for commercial use by 2026. The first-generation aircraft will have a maximum range of up to 400 km (250 miles), using today’s lithium-ion batteries. Range will increase as battery energy densities improve.

The core of the ES-19 is the electric propulsion system. In 2020, Heart demonstrated its first iteration of this electric propulsion system, consisting of a 400kW electric motor, an electric motor controller and a battery pack with an integrated BMS system – all with world-leading

There have been plenty of pre-orders of potential planes from startups. There have been pre-orders of supersonic passenger planes. Many companies have failed without delivering on planes that were pre-ordered.

Israeli Eviation had promised a nine-seat all-electric passenger plane. The first plane is to fly this year and commercial introduction is supposed to be in 2024. The commercial introduction date has slipped three years since a 2018 announcement. They have just announced an redesigned 11 seat plane.

Nextbigfuture covered Eviation in 2018.

Cape Air has ordered a few dozen Eviation planes for about $4 million each.

In 2021, Eviation Aircraft today unveiled the revised design for Alice, its all-electric 11-seat aircraft, and confirmed plans to complete FAA type certification and service entry in 2024. Further, the company said the aircraft will make its first test flight by year-end. Eviation was trying to have its first flight in 2019. Newly published design drawings reveal significant changes from an earlier prototype, with a T-tail configuration replacing a V-tail. “We moved from a V-tail to a T-tail to optimize performance and handling and make it easy and reliable for pilots to seamlessly transition to flying the aircraft,” a company spokeswoman said. Meanwhile, Alice’s two MagniX Magni650 electric motors have been relocated from the wingtips to a pylon mount on the aft fuselage. In May, MagniX delivered the first Magni650 motors to Eviation. Singapore-based Clermont Group owns the two companies.

Magnix is company making all electric airplane engines. They have converted and flown a Cessna with an all electric engine and power system.

In 2019, a De Havilland Beaver seaplane operated by Harbour Air, retrofitted with a magni500, 750-horsepower EPU, made the world’s first flight as an all-electric commercially-focused aircraft in Vancouver, Canada.

In 2020, a 208B Cessna Grand Caravan powered by a 750HP magni500 propulsion system, becomes the world’s biggest ever all-electric commercially-focused aircraft as it takes to the skies at Moses Lake, WA.

The retrofitted plane is flying but has less range than a custom-built more aerodynamic body for the Eviation. However, Eviation’s redesign only has a 400 mile range which is less than the 2018 plans. Meanwhile, Magnix is flying.

It seems like all-electric passenger planes will not be making a big impact until well past 2025 with better batteries and power systems.

Wright Working Through Better Inverter, Engines and Propulsion Technology

Wright Electric is still working with Ryan Air as customer on an all-electric passenger plane.

In 2017, Los Angeles startup Wright Electric partnered with budget airline EasyJet to build a 180-seat electric airliner to fly routes of up to 300 miles starting around 2027.

In 2021, the new plan is for the Wright 1 as a single-aisle, zero-emissions aircraft made for flights under 800 miles. It is projected to enter service for airlines in 2030.

Wright is developing megawatt-class, altitude-capable electric motors for high-performance altitude and ground-based applications.
2 MW
Up to 6x existing voltage
75% lower weight
50% smaller size
40% less heat loss
2x higher torque density

The Wright motor reduces the weight of the overall system, maximizing payload and range.

Wright works with airlines such as easyJet and VivaAerobus, and has development contracts with NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E. Wright has been funded through Y Combinator, the Clean Energy Trust, venture funds, and family offices.

Wright is attempting to grind through several technological innovations to reach an all electric large regional passenger jet.

SOURCES- Heart Aerospace, Eviation, Magnix, Wright Electric
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

54 thoughts on “United Pre-Orders a Hundred 19-Seat Electric Airplanes for 2026”

  1. So, how about reversing the roles, and having a small H (perhaps) jet that at full blast was enuf to cruise, and fuel cell recharged batteries for take off and slow stuff, on top of buildings. The fold away props NASA has that are for weird "lift" instead of forward movement, so much. Then pop up the SODRam and go.

  2. "IF the world reduces CO₂ production exclusively to jets … we'd have that problem 'licked'." Here, we will get into trouble with the *small world* crowd, as there is no give in the direction we must go, if they are right. Any slippage leads to total doom. But, if we bring in energy from Space to scrub C02, where we are not in whack a mole mode, the trade off seems well worth it to get to net 0. O'Neill provides a little time to get going, by promising a solution long term. I see no other solution long term.

  3. Yah… but you could 'burn' the H in the fuel cell to recharge the batteries, significantly cutting at-the-terminal turn-around, methinks. Especially since you 'might as well' use up the FAA safety margin requirement when it becomes obvious it'll not be needed for the rest of the flight.

  4. Jets plus dumb aviation kerosene is quite a potent contender. 

    • 42 MJ/kg for the fuel, 
    • 35+% heat-to-thrust conversion, 
    • simple tankage (no embrittlement, cryo, pressure), 
    • ubiquitous support at worldwide airports; 
    • hundreds-of-thousands of certified mechanics; 
    • remarkably powerful compact motors, at 
    • 'reasonable' weight; 
    • aircraft get lighter as fuel is burned; 
    • no need to carry pure oxidizer; 
    • remarkable range possibilities
    • … nearly half-way around the world.  

    Dunno. That is a helluva list to compete with. 

    Electric's mass (mass for more range) disadvantages compound the airframe-strength-mass multiplier problem. 

    Maybe they'll be able to fly 500 nautical miles with sufficient margin to satisfy FAA. Maybe some combination of pretty-high pressure, bimetalic van der waals storage will materialize that'll allow WAY farther ranges, at less than 100 bar. 

    But I just kind of doubt they're going to scale to the higher end of today's conventional aircraft SPEED and mission efficiency.  

    IF the world reduces CO₂ production exclusively to jets … we'd have that problem 'licked'.

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  5. Yes, you start out with full batteries, from the airport, but then at the end are just saving H by running the batteries down.

  6. You did mention jet engines in the other comment chain, but the batteries v fuel cells question took over. Is it *clear* that jets are better than electric motors, if they can be used?

  7. 'refueling the hydrogen' … there are 4 gotchas that come to mind

    № 1 — Cryogenic liquid

    Extraordinary cold + direct contact with hydrogen, embrittles metals. Nothing is 'flexible' at liq H₂ temps. Nothing worries an airline like 'sudden cracking' underway.

    № 2 — Ambient temp, high pressure

    All sorts of pretty safe high-pressure (1000 bar) storage exist. Problem is, mass. Not friendly to air travel;

    № 3 — Metastable low pressure alloys

    Once thought to be amazing, their 'mass' becomes the problem. Mass and heating requirements. Metals are heavy.

    № 4 — High H₂ compounds

    Degrading CH₄ (methane) or NH₃ (ammonia) or similar hi-H compounds might work. But the gas extraction machinery is neither light weight nor simple. Complex machines.  Mass.  

    № 4 — does have the advantage of being trivial to 'recharge'.  Hook up a hose, and pump in more fuel. Thing is, if you're going to do that, why not just burn it in a jet engine, and remove all the complexity? And parasitic mass.

    № 3 — offers rather rapid recharging rates, like '15 minute window', especially with forced water cooling.  

    № 2 — 'recharges' amazingly fast. Less than 5 minutes. But the explosion risk is huge. Airlines frown on that. I wonder why.

    № 1 — Remains nearly optimal, short of the brittleness, and hot-cold-hot cycling issues.  


    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  8. Yeah the reserve requirement is HUGELY important and quite different than electric cars.

    When the electric car runs out of charge you pull over to the side of the road.
    When the electric plane runs out of charge… you dead.

    Planes must have the ability to divert to a nearby runway. This means extra fuel margin and also extra battery margin. For jet fuel it is pretty easy. For batteries it is a real pain and greatly limits range.

    Hybrid Hydrogen-battery planes look better and better.

  9. It is worth bringing up the mundane realities of short hop commuter flights- you need to refuel/recharge in the time it takes for your passengers to disembark and for the next round of passengers to embark.

    Planes make zero money sitting at the gate so turnaround time is incredibly important as it means squeezing an extra flight or two each day. This requirement is better met by a hybrid Hydrogen-battery commuter plane. Refueling the Hydrogen is straightforward and with less battery to charge you can recharge faster.

    Hydrogen + solid state batteries may actually be a game changer.

  10. I'm going from a pretty distinct memory of the guy challenging Musk to a Baja race. He sez you can order liquid H2 delivered for labs and refineries pretty much anywhere. Cost!!!!!! And, much news that Europe is committed to H. The dangers of H are much like those of cell phones. We are doing the actual experiment, so there is little to dispute. Prime example of advantage of free market. In fact, Li batteries are looking bad in the press lately. Let the market, insurance actually, decide. But also taking into account all sorts of intangibles. Market forces.

    If you know you are going to use it, as on a flight, and can return left over at the other end, storage of the liquid is not a prob, and no pressure tank required. But big picture, steel mills on batteries? H is here, and rising fast. Explosively!

  11. I gave you a ⊕1 … but there is a falsehood there … liquid hydrogen isn't even remotely ubiquitous in availability. Anywhere.  

    Not to say it couldn't be. 
    Free Market opportunity would have suppliers lined up like cordwood.


    It is dangerous stuff.
    Moreso than propane.  
    Moreso than liquid methane. 
    Moreso than kerosene. 

    The aroma-free fumes (which can NOT be imbued with a stink!) evaporate a few degrees above absolute zero, some 430 degrees Fahrenheit blow zero, from any puddles or tanks of the cryo-stuff. And combined with air, they make marginally flammable mixtures; in large quantities (which is what happens when there is a leak), if they catch fire, kaboom.  

    Not with all that much total energy, but still a nice big boom.
    Big bada boom.
    The flame is invisible.
    And anyone standing nearby is either compressed to a box of noodles…
    Or explodes internally, due to having breathed the explosive mixture.  

    Not something to put into the hands of ordinary Jetway Monkeys. 

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  12. If I walk through a shopping centre car park (Sydney, Australia), I'll see a couple of Teslas. If I travel down a busy road, I'll see Teslas go past most of the time. I'll barely notice them any more.

    They aren't at the level of a Camry, but they are hardly a new, exotic vehicle any more.

  13. Normally that's the correct response, but there are some points in favor of a flying battery pack as a concept. See DARPA Gremlins work for both retrievable and launchable devices.

    As a device to support takeoffs as a kind of self recovering drop tank is operationally much safer overall, and could work in an airport shared pool concept. Yates, as part of the Flight of the Century group was testing probe and drogue cabled recharging, which can draw on a long history of military probe and drogue refueling system heritage. I don't think that's a truly commercially viable approach due to cable and cooling limits though (well, unless you are doing mass reverse charging, where the main aircraft trails multiple drogues and UAV battery packs probe the drogue so you can have multiple cables in parallel without the need for a hard docking). There are groups active in water cooled MW class charging cables, ostensibly for both UAM systems that do vehicle recharge rather than battery swaps, and large electric trucks. But not being much more than a MW means you are probably limited to vehicles that don't use more than 500KW so you can fly and charge at the same time in a reasonable timeframe, so that already puts you at small UAM sized vehicles only. DARPA Lightning Strike was an electric VTOL using a MW class generator connected to a turboshaft, and that wasn't very big.

  14. Again, it makes sense.  Batteries as 'fast rate capacitors' (in engineering way of thinking) between able-but-not-peaky water-producing fuel cells and the motors and rest of the aircraft.  

    Thing is, batteries are ALSO heavy.  

    A typical airplane:

    90 – 98% — 100 seconds, takeoff to approach throttle
    65 – 75% — 200 seconds, noise abatement, rise to corridor
    40 – 60% — 300 seconds, to cruise flight level, cruise speed
    20 – 30% — flight level cruise
    5 – 10% — 14 minute descent
    5 – 50% — 4 minute approach 
    20 – 50% — 2 minute landing and 
    5% or less — taxiing

    If our fuel-cell 'stack' is rated at 125% of 25% 'cruise power' or 30% of full power, then rather nicely, the fuel cell's limited output never causes a net-deficit of available power to demand.  And it mostly recharges by the end of the flight (it = the battery);

    As you said…

    Need that battery.
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  15. Granted! Now, it is not totally a duplication for two reasons. You need the batteries and their electronics for the quick response that fuel cells apparently don't have, which means seconds to full power here. Also, the peak power *must* be supplied, so whether by bigger fuel cell OR batteries is the question, for the added need beyond fuel cell cruise. Not both for this amount, which would be total duplication. So, if batteries or capacitor can be short on energy but long on power, they are probably lighter than bigger power fuel cell hardware.

  16. Not that you want to go this route but you'd beam power from the airport to the plane. Plane needs electricity to get up to altitude. Local beamed power needs are relatively local to the airport.

    Only like five more things that can break.

  17. Short hop flights are annoyances for the airlines.

    I will say that a quieter flight would actually be a real selling point. You could charge an extra $20 just for that alone.

  18. Yeah that's what i'm thinking- hybrid system.

    Batteries + fuel cell to get up to altitude, fuel cell to cruise. Efficient apart from duplication of systems.

    If you want to get extra special you can do a battery charging descent where you use air resistance to turn the blades to recharge the batteries. I can haz patent?

  19. Musk would put batteries where they are best, in cars. Aircraft need to worry about Specific Power, cars don't.

    At best Tesla would sell their cells to airplane manufacturers. That leverages what they are good at and helps build further economies of scale.

  20. Indeed, burn H for steel mills, much more. And don't forget Ammonia, comes with H economy naturally.

  21. Yes indeed! The fuel cell has a power level that is just above the cruising/continuous power desired. This is for trucks esp, cars and planes too. All fuel cells have that power limit as well as a slowness in response to very fast changing demand. So, batteries and/or capacitors are *always* between the fuel cell and the motor, to smooth response to this quick change in demand. Then, you add more batteries until the high take off needs can be met. A lot of batteries still, but nothing like batteries only. (edit: the same max power, but far less *charge*. Different style batteries.) The fuel cell can be thought of as a large battery charger, big enuf to go forever at average load, with more H. A balance of the factors is needed, but because of the power/energy separation of fuel cells, is perhaps possible. And, boil off that H cooling your motor and electronics! TANSTAAFL.

  22. because hydrogen can be fuel cell or ICE-like, there is much opportunity for easy transition…
    Though, i like batteries since i dream of gas-station destruction….

  23. uh… check your definition of mainstream…
    but, better and faster than we had any reason to expect on BEVs

  24. Those — especially № 2 and № 3 — are rather likely nefarious probabilities.  
    As is the case in our world, now. 
    Rhetoric, chicanery, corruption to address Climate Change. 

    ⊕1, ol' friend.
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  25. Yes, your analysis is true.  

    Seems like a near-perfect excuse for fuel cells. 

    The real problem there is that a fuel cell's power (not energy) scales with power, in a hopelessly near-linear way.  There is some economy-of-scaling.  Some. But not like a jet engine. Jet engines are designed to take 5 minutes of 10× nominal output power, but not continuous power at that rate. Fuel cells are nearly 7× heavier to achieve 10× nominal cruising power.  That offsets a LOT of the utility of having a nice big tank of hydrogen to power them. 

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  26. Methinks that there is going to be a significant bifurcation (always wanted to use that word in a sentence) in the hydrogen and battery-dominated vehicle propulsion space — maybe batteries on the light and widely distributed with hydroG as a range extender, heavy personal, and most public transport/ boats and planes…
    With europe, always being difficult, rolling out a significant H2 infrastructure, but it may not be cost-competitive to regular personal vehicles… mix and match… who will win batteries total or part or hydro???? Tune in at 11, that is the 11th month of 2025, when ICEs will really start to decline in sales…

  27. UNTIL one of them falls out of the sky.
    Because (you pick)
    … {climate change}
    … {errors in maintenance}
    … {act of the gods},
    … {charging mishaps},
    … {4650 cells fission unexpectedly}
    … {wing falls off to turbulence}

    Insurers will run like scalded apes rom the scene(s) of the crime.
    Then there are a bunch of planes, sitting pretty on the tarmak.

  28. If we had chicken, we could have Chicken and Biscuits.
    If we had biscuits.  

    I wonder how that'd work out.  
    Fly Crypto Airlines! No fuel aboard! 
    Perfectly safe Power-from-Space™
    What could go wrong!

    Uh… yah.

  29. I figuratively laughed my hind quarters off. I was drinking a nice cuppa tea, and scrolling thru the pithies, then a lil' red woodchuck with mange comes up. Tea-thru-snout at high velocity. I'll soon need a new keyboard.

    Thank you!

  30. Wow. Basically they're advertising one thing, and 'reality-checked' into slipping a different basket of objectives along with the Glorious Rhetoric. 400 km range, but 100 to 150 nm destinations.  Because of RESERVES requirements.  Because of slow-approaches to landing.  Because of IFR requirements.  FaA requirements.  

    OK. And tho' assiduously not mentioned, for longer runs, FEWER allowed passengers. Gotta cut the weight somewhere. There'll be no "carrying US mail to make up revenue" either.  So… while the glorious rhetoric says "batteries are becoming cheaper, and more power-dense" (taken from their website, but also distilled down from paragraphs to the phrase above), truth is kind of a bummer.  

    Batteries don't get lighter weight as their internal 'fuel' … 'burns'.  Period.  

    Moreover, tho' the electric motors definitely cost less than turboprops and turbofans (from their site), by 20× to 100×, they're also comparing their electric against 'large' turbojets and turbofans.  Classic marketing 101.  Our Yugo costs 100× less than a Bentley.  

    Ah, sure.

    It all sounds good, and United Airlines is financially in a position to try out a couple dozen. To obtain real-world stats on economic viability.  

    GOOD LUCK!!!

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  31. In Europe there are plans to avoid flights less than 2 hours ( most of the current flights) electric planes and speed trains ( most of them already in place) will be the backbone of transportation

  32. Nah. Tesla roadster was the point at which they stopped laughing.

    THIS was the one they laughed at.

  33. There is a possible, nay probable, commercial application.

    Namely, where an airport, city, or even state, enforces a ban or punitive taxation on hydrocarbon powered planes. And you know that at least some places will.

    The business plan looks like:

    1. Develop electric plane that can do at least a short hop.
    2. Now that electric planes are possible, activists push for them to be compulsory where they are possible at all. (Insert possible "donations" to said activists during this stage.)
    3. Normal planes get banned or taxed out of competition for say small flights around California or Germany
    4. PROFIT
  34. The main difference between a battery and a fuel cell is that the batteries have to support *power* and *energy* in lock step, as more energy come by adding more batteries, which each have their own power electrodes included in the cost, whether needed for power or not. Fuel cells have a size based upon power requirement. The energy requirement is met by the size of the tank, far better plan, independent variable.

  35. The amazing thing about battery aircraft is not how well they fly, it is that they fly at all. Given the ready avail of liquid H at airports, if needed, just leave the "carbon" out of the "hydrocarbon" and things look like the Next Big future.

  36. If LEO powersats were a thing, there could be laser energy transfer. Likely, there would be a high orbit satellite, low orbit sat constellation, with higher orbit powering lower orbit on dark side of planet. There would be tradeoff between lower drag higher orbit, and distance to receiver. Air breathing ion engines would likely be used for low orbits.

  37. Regardless of the statistical chicanery, until batteries have the same energy density as hydrocarbons, this is a money losing proposition.

  38. The most expensive fuel station prices are in the air. Only the military can afford that.

    I would think a boom with a hose has more dangers than a boom with a plug.

    And it should be possible to have nuclear powered in flight charging planes/drones. They could stay up there months at a time recharging thousands of airplanes.

    An automated system could control the docking of and possibly also tow multiple aircraft while charging.

  39. I see them hoping first from smaller towns to big hubs 200-300 miles further apart in the West and Mid West where the population is sparser. Say, Merced – Los Angeles.

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